American Airlines Group Inc grounded 14 Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737-800 airplanes on Thursday after complaints by pilots that overhead bins on some recently-retrofitted aircraft interiors were not closing, an American official said.
In a statement, American said the issue did not jeopardize the safety of flights and that it is working with a vendor and the Federal Aviation Administration to immediately address the issue.
The aircraft interiors were being updated by a long-time supplier, ATS, said Gary Schaible, president of Transport Workers Union Local 591, which represents 4,800 American mechanics.
After write-ups from pilots saying that overhead bins on some 737-800s were not closing after the updating, the planes were taken to American’s maintenance base in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where mechanics discovered additional issues, Schaible said.
An American official confirmed the problem of bins not closing.
“After further inspection by American, the work that was conducted on these two aircraft was not up to our standards. Out of an abundance of caution, we have proactively removed from service the additional 12 aircraft that were updated by this vendor and have notified the FAA,” American said.
American has canceled 40 flights so far as a result of the groundings.
The outsourcing of maintenance work, to U.S.-based suppliers like ATS or in-house American employees abroad, is at the core of ongoing contract talks between American and its mechanics unions.